Men's Basketball Travels to No. 21/21 Villanova
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Jan. 31, 2009

 

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GAME 22: Cincinnati at No. 21/21 Villanova

Sunday, Feb. 1 u Noon EST u The Pavilion (6,500) u Villanova, Pa. u BIG EAST Network

THE MATCH-UP

The Cincinnati Bearcats (14-7, 4-4 BIG EAST) head to Philadelphia on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1, to take on No. 21/21 Villanova (16-4, 4-3 BIG EAST) at Noon ET. The game will be UC's second in a row vs. a nationally ranked opponent after knocking off No. 25/23 Georgetown at home on Wednesday, 65-57. The game will be televised on the BIG EAST Network, including its partner WKRC (Local 12). Legendary sportscaster Don Criqui will call the play-by-play with Bob Wenzel handling the analysis. The Wildcats are coming off a 67-57 win on Wednesday over No. 3 Pittsburgh and have won three of their last four in league play. Villanova, which is tied for sixth in the BIG EAST standings is just a half game ahead of ninth-place Cincinnati.

 

THE SERIES

The series with Villanova dates back to 1947 when the two schools met for the first time in Music Hall in Cincinnati with Villanova winning, 70-68. After the inaugural meeting it wasn't until the 2005-06 season, after UC joined the BIG EAST, the two would meet again. After losing the first two meetings as conference opponents, UC knocked off the then No. 19 Wildcats, 69-66, last season on a Rashad Bishop 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.

 

SCOUTING VILLANOVA

·         Villanova owns a record of 16-4 overall and 4-3 in the BIG EAST Conference.

·         The Wildcats are ranked No. 21 in both the the Associated Press Poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

·         Villanova has won three of its last four games, including a 67-57 upset of No. 3 Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. Reggie Redding led the Wildcats with a career-high 18 points and seven rebounds, while Dante Cunningham added 15 points.

·         The Wildcats have won 24 consecutive games in their on-campus arena, the Pavilion, dating back to January, 2007. They have sold out the 6,500 seat arena for 91 straight games.

·         Cunningham leads the squad and is 11th in the BIG EAST in overall scoring with 16.5 ppg and is one of two players averaging in double figures. Summers is joined by junior Scottie Reynolds at 14.5 ppg.

·         Villanova is ninth in the BIG EAST in overall scoring, three spots ahead of Cincinnati, averaging 74.1 ppg.

·         Defensively, the Wildcats are fifth in the BIG EAST in scoring defense (61.9 ppg), two spots ahead of UC.

·         Cunningham also leads Villanova in rebounding, posting 7.1 boards per game, followed by Antonio Pena with 6.0 rpg.

·         The Wildcats are fourth in the BIG EAST in field goal shooting defense, holding opponents to 39.0 percent from the field. They are also sixth in the BIG EAST in rebounding margin at +4.7.

·         Villanova's defense forces 15.1 turnovers a game and is fifth in the conference with a +2.40 turnover margin in large part to its 7.8 steals per contest.

 

GEORGETOWN GAME NOTES - JAN. 28

·         An 11-2 Bearcat run over the final 4:10 of the game gave UC a 65-57 win over Georgetown. The win is Cincinnati's first win over a ranked opponent this season and its first since defeating No. 15 Pittsburgh, 62-59, on Jan. 19, 2008.

·         The 65-57 win marks the first victory over Georgetown in series history. The Hoyas lead the series 4-1.

·         With the win, UC improved to 14-7 on the season marking the most wins for the Bearcats in the Mick Cronin era. Last season's 13 wins were the previous best under Cronin and it took Cincinnati 25 games to get its 13th win.

·         The Bearcats improved to 10-0 on the season when leading at the half.

·         Cincinnati finished the game with 10 steals, marking the third time this season UC has recorded 10-plus steals in a game. The Bearcats are 3-0 in those contests.

·         Cincinnati entered the intermission with a 27-26 lead over Georgetown. The Bearcats shot 50 percent from the field in the first half (11-of-22), while holding the Hoyas to 35.7 percent from the field (10-of-28).

·         Trailing 20-17 with 8:04 to play in the first half, UC went on an 8-0 run over the next 4:09 to take a 25-20 lead with 3:55 to play in the half.

·         Junior Deonta Vaughn finished with a game-high 20 points, his 17th double-figure scoring game this season. It is the first time this season that Vaughn has recorded 20-plus points in consecutive games and it is the first time he has scored 20 points in back-to-back games since scoring 30 and 23 points vs. Pittsburgh (3/12 - BIG EAST Championship) and Bradley (3/19 - College Basketball Invitational) last year. 

·         Vaughn dished out three assists, giving him 100 for the season. He also surpassed 1,300 career points in the contest, making him the 20th player in program history to eclipse the plateau.

·         Freshman Dion Dixon scored all of his 10 points in the second half, his sixth double-figure scoring game this season.

·         Freshman Yancy Gates had three blocks in the first eight minutes and finished the game with a career-high four. He had three blocks in his previous  seven games.

·         Sophomore Rashad Bishop had with a career-high nine assists. His previous career best was six vs. Providence on Jan. 7, 2009. Bishop also added six points and six rebounds.

·         Senior Mike Williams scored 12 points, his 11th double-figure scoring game of the season and his sixth in the last seven contests.

 

DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME ...

·         In the final 10 games of the regular season, the Bearcats will face five teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including Top 10 opponents No. 3 Pittsburgh (Feb. 14) and No. 7 Louisville (Feb. 21).

·         Of the 10 remaining teams on UC's schedule all but one own a winning record (USF - 7-13) and they have a combined mark of 135-64 (.678).

·         Cincinnati is currently 57th in the RPI Ratings and owns the nation's 29th toughest schedule.

·         Following is a list of UC's opponent which are ranked in the Top 64 in the RPI rankings along with this season's result or the date of the game:

 

2008-09 UC Opponents in the Top 64 in the RPI

Rk.    Team                Date/Result

3.      Pittsburgh                  Feb. 14

5.      Xavier                        L, 76-66

8.      Connecticut              L, 81-72

9.      Louisville                    Feb. 21

12.    Memphis                   L, 60-45

13.    Villanova                       Feb. 1

16.    Marquette                 L, 84-50

19.    West Virginia              Feb. 26

21.    Georgetown W, 65-57; Feb. 7

23.    Syracuse                    March 1

27.    Florida State              L, 58-47

43.    UNLV                        W, 67-65

45.    UAB                          W, 87-80

61.    Providence L, 87-79; L, 72-65

 

UC VS. RANKED OPPONENTS

·         Cincinnati is 113-163 (.409) all-time vs. opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including a 22-19 (.536) record in Fifth Third Arena.

·         The Bearcats are 4-4 vs. teams ranked No. 25 in the polls, including a 3-1 record on the road.

·         Villanova has been ranked twice when playing Cincinnati -- No. 2 in 2006 and No. 19 last season. UC's victory over the Wildcats last year was the program first vs. a ranked opponent under head coach Mick Cronin.

·         UC is 1-4 vs. teams ranked in both the AP or ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll this season and 1-2 vs. teams ranked in the Associated Press Poll.

·         Last season, head coach Mick Cronin led the Bearcats to a pair of home wins vs. ranked teams, beating No. 19 Villanova, 69-66, and No. 15 Pittsburgh, 62-59.

·         UC is 3-12 vs. ranked opponents under Cronin.

 

BIG (EAST) TURNAROUND

·         Looking at the Bearcats statistically, UC has played two completely different segments of the BIG EAST schedule. UC started off the New Year losing its first three BIG EAST games by an average of 17.0 points per game.

·         In the five games since, the Bearcats have won four out of five thanks to a much improved defense that is holding opponents to 60.6 points per game, 23.4 points fewer per outing than the first three conference games.

·         Below is a comparison of UC's first three BIG EAST games to the last five:

 

Category           First Three      Last Five            Dif.

Record                             0-3                4-1               --

Points                             67.0              65.8            -1.2

Points Allowed                84.0              60.6          -23.4

Scoring Margin              -17.0              +5.2         +22.2

FG Percentage               41.6              41.5            -0.1

FG Percentage Def.        55.3              42.1          -13.2

3-PT Percentage             28.8              34.8           +6.0

3-PT Percentage Def.     54.7              30.0          -24.7

Rebounds                      32.7              36.0           +3.3

Opponent Rebounds      32.0              34.8           +2.5

Rebounding Margin        +0.7              +1.2           +0.5

 

GETTING FAMILIAR

·         As part of the BIG EAST's 18-game league schedule, Cincinnati will face Providence, St. John's, and Georgetown each in a home-and-home series this season.

·         Five games into the BIG EAST schedule, the Bearcats finished their season series with Providence, losing twice to the Friars within 10 days -- 87-79 on Jan. 7 and 72-63 on Jan. 17.

·         UC started its series at St. John's last week and vs. Georgetown on Wednesday. The return trips are on Feb. 7 at the Hoyas and Feb. 11 vs. the Red Storm.

·         The Bearcats are 2-2 vs. teams in their pod.

 

GROWING UP ON THE ROAD

·         One thing a young team has to learn as it grows up is how to win on the road, especially in conference play. This season, the Bearcats are showing signs of a maturing team as they are 4-4 overall away from Fifth Third Arena, including 2-2 in BIG EAST play.

·         Cincinnati's most league victories on the road as a member of the BIG EAST came last season going 3-6. UC is 7-22 on the road as a member of the BIG EAST.

·         The Bearcats opened the season with just three road games in their first 14 contests before starting league play on Jan. 4 at Marquette.

·         Two of the three road games were part of the Global Sports Classic. After playing home games vs. Western Illinois (Nov. 22) and Coastal Carolina (Nov. 24), the Bearcats traveled to Las Vegas for the final two rounds at the Thomas & Mack Center where they faced Florida State (Nov. 28) and UNLV (Nov. 29).

·         The other lone pre-conference road game was at 2008 NCAA national runner-up Memphis on Dec. 29.

·         The Bearcats do not find the rims on the road kind as they are shooting 37.7 percent on the road compared to 45.3 percent in Fifth Third Arena.

·         UC also has a difficult time with the caroms as opponents hold the Bearcats to 36.9 rebounds per game on the road compared to 41.2 at home.

·         Junior guard Deonta Vaughn averages just 14.0 points per game away from Fifth Third Arena compared to 16.6 ppg at home and was held scoreless for the first time in his career at Marquette on Jan. 4.

 

FINDING HIS STRIDE

·         In Cincinnati's last seven games, freshman guard Dion Dixon has begun find his game and become more at ease vs. BIG EAST competition.

·         In the seven games since scoring three points at Marquette on Jan. 4, Dixon is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 8.3 points and 3.0 rebounds.

·         He equaled his career high for scoring at Providence (Jan. 19) with 14 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.

·         The 14-point output marked his fifth double-digit scoring effort of the season and his first in seven games since posting 11 points at home vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Dec. 22).

·         Dixon registered his second double-digit scoring game in his last three outings vs. Georgetown (Jan. 28) with 10 points on three 3-pointers and a free throw. He also added four rebounds.


GOTTA GET TO THE LINE

·         Getting to the free throw line is always important, but for the Bearcats in BIG EAST play it has been even more of a deciding factor.

·         Since the start of league play, UC is 3-0 when getting to the line at least 20 times in a game.

·         At St. John's on Jan. 22, the Bearcats trailed the Red Storm, 39-28, at the half and was 1-for-1 from the line. In the second half, the Cincinnati found its way to the free throw line 21 times and converted on 14 as it battled from behind for a 71-60 win. Deonta Vaughn led the way going 7-for-10 from the charity stripe.

·         On the season, UC is 7-2 on the year when attempting 20 or more free throws in a game.

·         Cincinnati is also 4-0 this season when shooting 20 or more free throws in the second half.

 

PROTECT WHAT IS YOURS

·         Since equaling their season-high with 20 turnovers at Memphis (Dec. 29), the Bearcats have been making steady improvements protecting the basketball.

·         In its last eight games, UC has turned the ball over an average of 12.3 times per game (94 turnovers). 33 of the turnovers came in a two-game stretch vs. DePaul and Providence.

·         The Bearcats six turnovers vs. Rutgers (Jan. 14) are a season low and equal the lowest total in Mick Cronin's three years at UC (6, three times, last vs. USF in 2007-08).

·         After turning over the ball 10 times in the first half vs. Georgetown (Jan. 28), Cincinnati gave up the ball just four times in the second half as they pulled away late for a 65-57 win over the nationally-ranked Hoyas.

·         Since the start of league play, the team's best at protecting the ball on paper has been Rashad Bishop, who is second in the league in conference only games with a 3.56 assist-turnover ratio.

 

"D-ING" IT UP

·         After getting behind by as many as 16 and trailing 36-29 at halftime to Rutgers on Jan. 14, head coach Mick Cronin went in search of his five best defenders to help Cincinnati come from behind and knock off the Scarlet Knights, 71-59.

·         In the second half, Cronin found his line-up as he went to a rotation of Deonta Vaughn, Larry Davis/Dion Dixon, Rashad Bishop, Mike Williams, and Steve Toyloy.

·         Cincinnati held Rutgers to 29.0 percent (9-of-31) shooting in the second half, including 1-for-10 from 3-point range. Mike Rosario, the Scarlet Knights top scorer, scored just one 3-pointer in the second half and was 1-of-10 from the floor.

·         UC outrebounded the Knights, 20-18, in the second half, led by Vaughn's seven second-half boards. He finished with a career-high eight rebounds in the game.

·         The group has started every game since Rutgers and has a record of 3-1 when starting.

·         On Jan. 17,they went on to hold the DePaul to 25.0 percent shooting from three (4-of-16) and 1-of-8 shooting from deep in the second half in a 59-55 victory.

·         At Providence, the group held the Friars, who had scorched the Bearcats with 12-of-24 shooting from 3-point range on Jan. 7, to 3-of-20 shooting (.150) from 3-point range in the second match-up.

·         The group started its third straight game at St. John's and keyed the comeback with their defensive heroics. With the Bearcats trailing, 51-40, with 13:16 to play, Cincinnati rattled off 31 of the final 40 points to defeat the Red Storm, 71-60. During the final stretch, UC held St. John's to 2-of-17 shooting from the floor.

·         With UC trailing 55-54 with 4:10 left vs. Georgetown (Jan. 28), the Bearcats' defense held the Hoyas to two points on 1-of-6 shooting the rest of the way, while Cincinnati scored 11 and went on to a 65-57 win.

 

MORE HELP DOWN THE STRETCH

·         Last season junior guard Deonta Vaughn was called on more often than not to be the Bearcats go-to-man down the stretch of games, a role he excelled at averaging 7.2 points per game over the final 10 minutes.

·         With the addition of Mike Williams and the maturation of the team, he has not had to do as much this season and is averaging 3.3 ppg over the final 10 minutes.

·         Last year after Vaughn, only John Williamson (2.8 ppg) averaged over two points per contest down the stretch.

·         Mike Williams has been the Bearcats leading scorer down the stretch this year, posting 3.9 points per contest. He has also received help from Dion Dixon (3.4), Vaughn (3.3 ppg), and Yancy Gates (2.4 ppg) who all average over two points per game during the stretch run.

·         In the 71-60 come-from-behind win at St. John's (Jan. 22), Vaughn returned to his old self, scoring 20 points in the second half including 11 in the final 10 minutes, shooting a perfect 2-for-2 from 3-point range.

 

BISHOP STEPS UP BIG IN BIG EAST

·         Since the start of BIG EAST Conference play, sophomore guard Rashad Bishop re-asserted himself as an all-around threat in the Bearcats starting line-up averaging, 8.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists.

·         For the season, Bishop has put up 6.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists a night.

·         He notched his first double-figure scoring games of the year to start league play, posting 11 vs. Marquette (Jan. 4) and Providence (Jan. 7).

·         He posted a career-high 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting at St. John's before fouling out with two technical fouls with just over 17 minutes to play in the game.

·         Bishop turned in a stellar all-around performance on Jan. 28 vs. No. 25/23 Georgetown, posting six points, six rebounds and a career-high nine assists.

·         27 of his 89 rebounds in league play are from the offensive glass (3.4 offensive rpg).

·         Bishop has also taken care of the ball since the start of conference play, dishing out 32 assists, while committing just nine turnovers.

·         His 3.56 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference-only games ranks second in the BIG EAST.